The Innovative Church

By Jim LaDoux
Scott Cormode, author of The Innovative Church, suggests that the church as we know it is calibrated for a world that no longer exists and needs to recalibrated in order to address the questions that animate today's congregants. Scott Cormode explores the role of Christian practices in recalibrating the church for the twenty-first century, offering church leaders innovative ways to express the never-changing gospel to their ever-changing congregations. Listed below are a few of my takeaways from the book.


1 | The best way to predict the future is to invent it  
The pandemic jarred church leaders out of their complacency. Covid reminded us that we cannot stand still while the world changes around us.
  • If you were starting a new church, how would you intentionally design it to reach the people God has called you to serve?
  • What drew you to the church? What would cause you to leave?
  • What has Covid taught you about what to let go of or leave behind?

2 | Leaders must become who their people they serve need them to be
  • Who has God entrusted us to serve? What do we have to offer?
  • How does our church add vitality/value to their life?
  • Do we know people well enough to truly care for them?

3 | The church as we know it is calibrated for a world that no longer exists
Almost everything about the current experience of church was established in a bygone era: the way we worship, the passages of Scripture we cherish, and the people we expect to see. List the norms that shape people's experience of worship, faith formation, building community, and hospitality. Then, ask your team:
  • Which norms no longer serve a purpose?
  • What assumptions do we hold that are no longer true?
  • How might you improve upon existing norms?
  • Which actions and approach may lead to greater impact and reach?

4 | The pace of change is accelerating
Something new rolls over us even as we are still reeling from the last thing. In the past, the church had time to adjust between changes. It could absorb the initial shock of social change, wait for things to settle into an equilibrium, and then learn from those who had already adjusted to that new reality. But the wait - and - copy strategy will not work anymore.
  • How might we SPEED UP decision-making, implementation, and evaluation?
  • How might we SLOW DOWN to be more mindful, present, and reflective?

5 | Church members/leaders need to think like farmers
We are tending the people whom God has entrusted to our care . But we cannot make the people grow. There is no guaranteed outcome. We nurture our people by creating an environment conducive to growth , then we hand our people over to God.
What types of conditions can we create that would help people experience God, deepen friendships, and serve others?
What's in our control? What do we need to turn over to God?

6 | Vision inspires people to participate in something that is larger than themselves
  • Does your church have a clear, compelling vision that energizes people?
  • Do your leaders know and share the vision with others?
  • Is your vision memorable and repeatable?

7 | People don’t resist change; they resist loss
  • What kinds of "loss" are people clinging to? Why?
  • What might help them grieve?  Let go?  Move on?
  • How often do you have "funerals" for programs and activities that need to end?
  • How often do your leaders ask, "Is there a better way of doing ministry?"

8 | We should listen so that we will be transformed by what we hear
  • What would happen if leaders talked less and listened more?
  • Who isn't always given a voice in your church? In your community?
  • In what ways is active listening a sign of humility?

9 | The goal of Christian innovation is to invite our people into a new story
  • What is the hope we bring to people in their lives?
  • How do we help individuals and churches reframe their identity and their lives?

10 | Innovative churches help people make spiritual sense of their everyday lives
  • Which approaches and practices does your church need to "recalibrate?"
  • What do leaders need to pay closer attention to?
  • What should leaders be measuring? Celebrating?


  1. Does your church help people connect your vision to what you say and do?
  2. What's the new story you'd like to write for your congregation?
  3. List ways your church helps people make sense of their everyday lives.
  4. Which of the 10 takeaways do you find more relevant to your setting?
  5. What norms does your church have related to the practice of listening?

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